I was recently looking at the template in D&D 5e for half-dragons and then for shadow dragons and I realized that you could truncate and slightly modify the shadow dragon template and use it to make other creatures shadow creatures! The new template is as follows.
Any non-shadow creature can become a shadow. When a creature becomes a shadow, it retains all its statistics except as noted below.
Damage Vulnerability. The shadow has vulnerability to radiant damage.
Damage Resistances. The shadow has resistance to necrotic damage.
Skill Proficiency: Stealth. The shadow’s proficiency bonus is doubled for its Dexterity (Stealth) checks. (Expertise)
Living Shadow. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow has resistance to damage that isn’t force, psychic, or radiant.
Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow can take the Hide action as a bonus action.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the shadow has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
So let’s look at a cultist with the shadow template applied as a Shadow Cultist. Cultists are in the SRD of D&D 5e and is part of the D&D 5e OGL. You can find the unmodified cultist here.
Medium humanoid (any race) , any non-good alignment
Armor Class 12 (Leather Armor)
Hit Points 9 (2d8)
Speed 30 ft.
Skills Deception +2, Religion +2, Stealth +4
Senses Passive Perception 10
Languages Any one language (usually Common)
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
Proficiency Bonus +2
Damage Vulnerability. The shadow cultist has vulnerability to radiant damage.
Damage Resistances. The shadow cultist has resistance to necrotic damage.
Skill Proficiency: Stealth. The shadow cultist’s proficiency bonus is doubled for its Dexterity (Stealth) checks. (Expertise)
Living Shadow. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow cultist has resistance to damage that isn’t force, psychic, or radiant.
Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow cultist can take the Hide action as a bonus action.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the shadow cultist has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Dark Devotion. The shadow cultist has advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened.
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) slashing damage.
Notice how the CR doesn’t change. The shadow cultist can’t deal more damage and only has more defenses in dim light or darkness as well as adding a damage vulnerability that is not dependent on light levels. Will I be using this template in the future? Yes! I also figured other people might want this template so here it is!
This is not how I made my Shadow Skeleton that I described in my last RPG Corner. I combined the stat blocks of different creatures and that caused the CR to increase. If I had used this template the Shadow Skeleton would have a CR of 1/4 (the basic skeleton CR) instead of a CR of 1.
Languages Understands all languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 1 (200XP) Proficiency Bonus +2
Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow skeleton can take the Hide action as a bonus action.
Sunlight Weakness. While in sunlight, the shadow skeleton has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.
Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target’s Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest. If a non-evil humanoid dies from this attack, a new shadow rises from the corpse 1d4 hours later.
Dark Disposition. From the darkness, the shadow skeleton reaches out to feed on living creatures’ vitality. They can consume any living creature, but they are especially drawn to creatures untainted by evil. A creature that lives a life of goodness and piety consigns its basest impulses and strongest temptations to the darkness where the shadow skeletons hunger. As a shadow skeleton drains its victim’s strength and physical form, the victim’s shadow darkens and begins to move of its own volition. In death, the creature’s shadow breaks free, becoming a new undead shadow hungry for more life to consume. Then, if the body is not retrieved, the body’s skeleton is raised as a skeleton in five days and the shadow bonds with the skeleton making another shadow skeleton. If a creature from which a shadow has been created somehow returns to life, its undead shadow senses the return. The shadow might seek its “parent” to vex or slay. Whether the shadow pursues its living counterpart, the creature that birthed the shadow no longer casts one until the monster is destroyed.
Undead Nature. A shadow skeleton doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.
Next, Vampire Bats!
Vampire Bat Medium undead , unaligned
Armor Class 15 Hit Points 27 (5d10) Speed walk 10 ft., fly 60 ft.
STR 15 (+2) DEX 16 (+3) CON 11 (+0) INT 8 (-1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)
Echolocation. The bat can’t use its blindsight while deafened.
Keen Hearing. The bat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.
Multiattack. The vampire bat makes two attacks: one with its draining bite and one with its claws.
Draining Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage. The vampire bat gains hp equal to half the damage dealt.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage.
The Mythical Baital!
Baital Medium undead , chaotic evil
Armor Class 13 Unarmored Hit Points 87 (6d8 + 60) Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
STR 10 (+0) DEX 16 (+3) CON 10 (+0) INT 16 (+3) WIS 8 (-1) CHA 8 (-1)
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., Passive Perception 9 Languages Understands any languages it knew in life but can’t speak. Challenge 2 (450 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2
Echolocation. The biatal can’t use it’s blindsight while deafened.
Keen Hearing. The biatal has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) tests that rely on hearing.
Innate Spellcasting (Psionics). The baital’s spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 14). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components: 3/day each: charm person, suggestion 1/day: dominate person
Charge. If the stag skeleton moves at least 10 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a gore attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 9 (2d8) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be pushed up to 10 feet away and knocked prone.
Multi Attack. The stag skeleton makes two attacks, once with its kick and once with its gore.
With a little inspiration from God of War, The Helwalker!
Helwalker Medium undead , neutral
Armor Class 13 (Scrap Armor) Hit Points 136 (16d8 + 64) Speed 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 18 (+4) INT 11 (+0) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 18 (+4)
Saving Throws STR +7, CON +7, WIS +6, CHA +7 Damage Vulnerabilities Fire Damage Resistances Necrotic, Psychic Damage Immunities Cold Condition Immunities Charmed, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralyzed, Stunned Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 13 Languages all languages it knew in life Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3
Regeneration. The helwalker regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn. If the helwalker takes fire or radiant damage, this trait doesn’t function at the start of the helwalker’s next turn. The helwalker’s body is destroyed only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.
Turn Immunity. The helwalker is immune to effects that turn undead.
Multiattack. The helwalker can make two attacks. These attacks can encompass up to one icy shortsword attack, up to two icy fist attacks, and/or up to one icy touch attack.
Icy Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) cold damage.
Icy Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) cold damage. Instead of dealing damage, the helwalker can grapple the target (escape DC 14) provided the target is Large or smaller.
Icy Touch. The helwalker touches an enemy creature it can see within 5ft. of it. The target makes a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the target is frozen (treat as paralyzed) until the helwalker deals damage to it, until the end of the helwalker’s next turn, or the target takes fire damage. While frozen the target has vulnerability to fire damage.
The Child of the lord of the tower, The Dhampir
Dhampir Medium humanoid , any alignment
Armor Class 14 Natural Armor Hit Points 100 (15d8 + 40) Speed 30 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 15 (+2) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 16 (+3)
Saving Throws DEX +6, CHA +6 Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6 Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 14 Languages Any 3 languages Challenge 6 (2,300 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3
Regeneration. The dhampir regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn if it has a least 1 hit point and isn’t in direct sunlight. If the dhampir takes radiant damage this trait doesn’t function at the start of its next turn.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the dhampir has disadvantage on attacks and Wisdom(perception) checks that rely on sight.
Multiattack. The dhampir makes two attacks; either two Longsword attacks, two Light Crossbow attacks, or a Bite and Longsword attack.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., 1 target. Hit: 7 (d6 + 3) piercing damage. When a dhampir makes a successful bite attack they regain 1d4 hit points.
Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 80/320 ft., 1 target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage.
Dhampirs are the children of a vampire and a mortal. They are usually the spawn of a male vampire and a female mortal. They are not undead, they are a race unto themselves.
Once dhampirs reach adulthood they stop aging, remaining at a youthful beauty (or handsomeness) for the rest of their unnaturally long lives. Dhampirs don’t die of natural causes.
Dhampirs can drink blood for sustenance, but if their mortal parent was present for their upbringing they tend to prefer food over blood.
Finally, the lord of the Tower. Vampire Elder!
Vampire Elder Medium undead , lawful evil
Armor Class 19 (Natural Armor) Hit Points 680 (40d8 + 500) Speed 30 ft.
STR 20 (+5) DEX 20 (+5) CON 20 (+5) INT 18 (+4) WIS 18 (+4) CHA 18 (+4)
Saving Throws DEX +14, WIS +13, CHA +13 Skills Perception +13, Stealth +14 Damage Immunities Necrotic; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks Senses Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 23 Languages all languages (it’s that old) Challenge 30 (155,000 XP) Proficiency Bonus +9
Shapechanger. If the vampire isn’t in sunlight or running water, it can use its action to polymorph into a Tiny bat or a Medium cloud of mist, or back into its true form. While in bat form, the vampire can’t speak, its walking speed is 5 feet, and it has a flying speed of 30 feet. Its statistics, other than its size and speed, are unchanged. Anything it is wearing transforms with it, but nothing it is carrying does. It reverts to its true form if it dies. While in mist form, the vampire can’t take any actions, speak, or manipulate objects. It is weightless, has a flying speed of 20 feet, can hover, and can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. In addition, if air can pass through a space, the mist can do so without squeezing, and it can’t pass through water. It has advantage on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution saving throws, and it is immune to all nonmagical damage, except the damage it takes from sunlight.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the vampire fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
Misty Escape. When it drops to 0 hit points outside its resting place, the vampire transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that it isn’t in sunlight or running water. If it can’t transform, it is destroyed. While it has 0 hit points in mist form, it can’t revert to its vampire form, and it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed. Once in its resting place, it reverts to its vampire form. It is then paralyzed until it regains at least 1 hit point. After spending 1 hour in its resting place with 0 hit points, it regains 1 hit point.
Regeneration. The vampire regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and isn’t in sunlight or running water. If the vampire takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn’t function at the start of the vampire’s next turn.
Spider Climb. The vampire can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Vampire Weaknesses. The vampire has the following flaws: Forbiddance. The vampire can’t enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants. Harmed by Running Water. The vampire takes 20 acid damage if it ends its turn in running water. Stake to the Heart. If a piercing weapon made of wood is driven into the vampire’s heart while the vampire is incapacitated in its resting place, the vampire is paralyzed until the stake is removed. Sunlight Hypersensitivity. The vampire takes 20 radiant damage when it starts its turn in sunlight. While in sunlight, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Spellcasting. The vampire is a 9th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 23, +14 to hit with spell attacks). The vampire has the following wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): chill touch, encode thoughts, fire bolt, ray of frost, shocking grasp
1st level (4 slots): burning hands, cause fear, grease, ray of sickness, hideous laughter
2nd level (3 slots): darkness, ray of enfeeblement
9th level (1 slot): power word kill, psychic scream
Multiattack (Vampire Form Only). The vampire makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite attack.
Unarmed Strike (Vampire Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage. Instead of dealing damage, the vampire can grapple the target (escape DC 23).
Bite (Bat or Vampire Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 5 ft., one willing creature, or a creature that is grappled by the vampire, incapacitated, or restrained. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage plus 12 (3d8) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the vampire regains hit points equal to twice that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under the vampire’s control.
Charm. The vampire targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the vampire, the target must succeed on a DC 23 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by the vampire. The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn’t under the vampire’s control, it takes the vampire’s requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire’s bite attack. Each time the vampire or the vampire’s companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the vampire is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
Children of the Night (1/Day). The vampire magically calls 2d6 swarms of bats or rats (swarm of bats, swarm of rats), provided that the sun isn’t up. While outdoors, the vampire can call 3d8 wolves (wolf) instead. The called creatures arrive in 2 rounds, acting as allies of the vampire and obeying its spoken commands. The beasts remain for 24 hours, until the vampire dies, or until the vampire dismisses them as a bonus action.
Legendary Actions The vampire can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The vampire regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Move. The vampire moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks.
Unarmed Strike. The vampire makes one unarmed strike.
Bite (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire makes one bite attack.
Charm (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire uses its charm action.
And that’s it! I just need to design and fill the dungeon with creatures and traps and oh, would you look at the time, I have some other stuff to do…
Krakust swam quickly towards the figure that had thrown a fishing spear at him. As he did so the creature threw another one. It glanced off of Krakust’s arm, taking a chunk of flesh with it. Grunting in pain he continued forward towards the creature. He was finally close enough to make it out. It was a large, blue-green, anthropomorphic frog. He hadn’t seen anything like it before, all he knew was that it had attacked him first. He swam faster and, before the creature could throw another spear, he buried his dagger deep into one of its large eyes. He pulled the dagger back and slashed the throat of the frogman. A thick, black sludge seeped out of the wounds and into the water. Krakust backed away from the substance then turned to continue the swim downward.
Ember was having a hard time keeping up with Krakust. Foxes were not designed to swim under water and she had to fight against her buoyancy with paws that wanted to push her towards the surface. The close call with the first spear did not help and she floated upwards quite a ways. She tried her hardest to keep up with Krakust, who didn’t seem to notice, or didn’t care, that she was falling behind. Looking around at the rocky walls of the deep pool she decided that it might be better to push off them to get downward momentum. She swam to one and tried pushing off of it. It certainly was faster than swimming by itself, but not very much.
Slow down! I can’t keep up! She tried to communicate telepathically with Krakust, but he didn’t seem to hear her. Shast!
Krakust continued to swim downward. After a long swim he saw the bottom of the pool expand into and underwater cavern. The heat from the water was increasing. It wasn’t uncomfortably hot yet, but he expected it would get much warmer the farther down he went. Glancing around he noticed another frog creature guarding an underwater cave. He oriented his body to swim that way when he realized Ember wasn’t with him. He looked up to see her slowly making her way toward him. Well, the sentry hasn’t noticed me yet, I’ll wait for her to catch up.
Pushing off the walls took a lot of Ember’s concentration. She pushed off the wall again and realized there was no more wall below her. She looked around frantically and noticed Krakust waiting for her. With a sigh of relief that released bubbles into the water she began swimming toward him. He nodded at her then turned to swim in another direction. Well, at least he waited for me before going out of sight. Ember made her short legs work all the more to try to keep up with the orc. How did Helena get this deep? I certainly would’ve drowned by now without the potion Krakust had. Ember shook her head. No, don’t think about that. She must be fine.
The frog creature finally turned to face Krakust, but it was too late. He was already reaching out with his dagger to kill the sentry. The same black substance from before oozed out of the creature and Krakust once again made sure not to swim through it. He swam into the cave and up into an air pocket. He heard the distant sound of struggling and almost ran towards it before remembering Ember was still behind him. “Probably should’ve brought the dwarf with me except he would sink like a stone.” He muttered softly to himself.
After a few moments Ember surfaced and made her way out of the water. She shook herself dry and looked around, confused. “Aren’t we below the water level?”
“Keep your voice down,” Krakust said softly. “This is an air pocket and it’s probably not very big.” A scream echoed down the narrow passageway as if to punctuate his point. “We might want to get a move on.”
“Agreed.” Ember started padding quickly down the passage, not waiting for Krakust. She poked her head around a nearby blind corner then pulled it back. By this point Krakust had caught up with her. “Helena is tied up and looks unconscious. There’s two of the frog things with her.”
Krakust nodded. “I can take them. The other ones were pretty weak.” He took a moment to focus, then his muscles became move defined and his blood vessels stuck out slightly. “Here we go.” He rounded the corner and lunged at one of the two frog men.
Following behind Ember saw the other frog man shoving something into Helena’s mouth then turned to attack Krakust. She ran forward to Helena to see what it was.
A pink object changed color to match Helena’s tongue. Helena’s eyes went wide as the thing ripped her tongue out and attached itself to the stump. She then passed out again.
Ember turned to see Krakust finish off the second frog creature by smashing its head in with his pick hammer. “Quick!” She yelled. “Helena’s tongue was replaced by a parasite!” She pointed at the slab of pink flesh on the ground with her snout. “You need to cut it out!”
“What?” Krakust looked at the flesh. “If I do that she won’t be able to talk.”
“Just do it!”
“Fine.” He pulled his dagger out and wiped it off on his leg. “Here goes.”
Donaar jumped onto the raft and gripped a femur tightly with his left hand. With his right he started passing out the potions of acid resistance. “Here, chug them and we might make it out of this alive!”
Sorley and Lourek each took one of the potions and downed them swiftly then gripped onto the raft.
“Here it comes!”
The wave crashed into the bone raft and the three creatures holding onto it were covered in acid. There was about a half a centimeter invisible barrier keeping the acid from touching their skin. The kobold above didn’t have that luxury and he appeared to be having a hard time holding onto the piece of debris.
Orby, Sorley thought at the elemental, can you push that creature closer to us?
It’s called a kobold, since you don’t seem to know what it is. Orby replied. I could, but the acid would hurt me. As long as I stay part of you it won’t affect me.
Sorley mumbled something to himself then grabbed a handful of flour from a sack he had tied to his waist. He then threw the flour toward the kobold. The flour imploded halfway between the two groups causing them to get closer to eachother.
“What are you doing?” Lourek yelled. “We’re already in a precarious position! Don’t make it worse!”
Throwing another handful of flour Sorley responded, “this isn’t going to make it any worse. In fact it might make the wave smaller.” The flour imploded again, taking some of the acid with it where ever it was going.
– – –
On the surface of the hot spring the serpent’s face contorted and it started coughing and hacking. Lukren and Evryn backed away from the serpent as it began to thrash about wildly. It was yelling something in draconic, but Lukren didn’t understand the language.
The serpent yelled in draconic again then started to calm down.
With a last string of draconic the serpent shot water into the air then dipped beneath the surface of the water and disappeared from Lukren’s sight. “Great,” he muttered, “now it’ll be even harder for them to get out.”
– – –
Just as Sorley was close enough to reach out and grab the kobold the entire belly of the beast convulsed and the feeling of weightlessness came over him. “Quick! Grab on!”
Seeing the outstretched hand the kobold pushed off of his piece of debris and grabbed onto Sorley’s forearm. “Thank!”
The grip was so tight that the kobold’s claws broke Sorley’s skin in places, but he held on all the tighter in response. If he could save this innocent life maybe he could save others. Not like his parents had, sacrificing their lives, but surviving another day to save more. By the time the stomach acid had settled down his arm was oozing blood from several places and the kobold was unconscious. Carefully pulling the kobold onto the raft Sorley grabbed the tattered pieces of his tunic and wrapped some strips around his arm.
“Will he be okay?” Sorley asked Donaar.
“I’m not sure.” Donaar placed a hand over the kobold’s nose. “I feel his breathing, so possibly.” The dragonkin looked around. “Is there someplace we can land this raft?”
Lourek pointed at a distant pile of debris. “That looks as good a place as any.” He pulled an arm from the raft and started using it as an oar. “Only one way to find out.”
The raft slowly made its way to the isle of debris in the sea of stomach acid. The surface of the debris above the acid was by no means dry when they got there, but it was better than their raft. The acid immunity potions were starting to wear off and the acid was beginning to sting their eyes. By the time they disembarked from the raft the skin of Sorley and Lourek was starting to burn.
“Those scales sure come in handy. Another barrier before you start getting burnt.” Lourek motioned at Donaar. “Though, I suspect it’s worse once the acid gets through them.”
“I don’t want to find out.” Donaar threw the kobold over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. “We need to get out of here, and soon.”
Sorley pulled the pouch of flour off his hip and threw it into the stomach acid. “That’s ruined now. The acid got absorbed by it.” He started sifting through some of the debris that was piled up. “Maybe I can find some bone to grind into powder. Needs to be mostly unaffected by the acid, though.”
“Don’t worry about that right now. I think there’s something buried over there.” Lourek pointed at a piece of carved stone protruding from the pile. “Maybe it’s something more immediately useful.”
With a shrug Sorley walked towards the gray stone. Upon closer inspection it appeared to be part of a portal. Seeing that it could in fact be a way out Sorley started digging frantically only to discover it was shattered into various large pieces. He pulled up as many as he could and started arranging them.
“Well,” Donaar asked as he gently set the kobold down, “is it anything we can use?”
“Not if it’s as broken as it appears,” commented Lourek.
Sorley pulled his grimoire from his pack. The cover appeared to be a little damp, but he quickly wiped it off. Undoing the buckle on the cover he flipped to a blank page. “It’s not very helpful right now, no, but I think it could be important.” He pulled a quill and a stoppered bottle of ink out. “I’m going to sketch it. It appears to be a teleportation circle or a summoning circle. Could be either at this point. I’ll do some research on it later when we aren’t in this situation.”
“Wait, could you teleport us out of here?” Lourek stood on a piece of debris to look over Sorley’s shoulder. “I’m no expert, but if you’ve been somewhere before it should be simple, right?”
“Simple?” Sorley paused from his sketch. “Teleportation is an exact science. There’s no simple about it.”
“What about a portal? You said one brought you here to Domhan. Could you make a smaller one to jump to a point you remember here?”
“That would be better if I could see where I was going. Not very possible from where we are. If I get anything wrong,” Sorley resumed sketching the magic circle, “we could end up in the wrong place in pieces.”
The kobold opened its eyes and looked around weakly. “Where Kefderent now?”
Donaar turned to the kobold. “What’s Kefderent?”
“I Kefderent. Of Kef Clan.” The kobold slowly stood up. “Me sore, but alive.”
With a smile Sorley finished the sketch and turned to the kobold. “Hi, Kefderent. I’m Sorley Aelfson.”
“I’m Donaar ‘Shield Biter’ Thruuvth a knight of the Order of Defenders. The dwarf is Lourek.” Donaar motioned at Lourek.
“Aye, nice to make your acquaintance.” Lourek turned back to Sorley. “Well, will you at least try to make a portal?”
Sighing, Sorley took a seat on a piece of the magic circle he had pulled from the detritus. “I’ll need to commune with Gormaliev first. I’ve never cast anything that complicated before.” He folded his legs and fell into a trance. As he did so Orby floated out of him.
I can’t be part of that conversation. Orby thought to Donaar and Lourek. Is there anything I can do for the two of you?
Krakust shrugged. “If I hadn’t killed him he would’ve killed me.” Sitting down he smiled. “And if I couldn’t defend myself there I would have given up any claims to return to my tribe. Even if I had Helena and Sorley with me.”
“Which you never will, not as slaves.” Helena stood and started walking away. “I’m going to find a smaller pool to relax in. Yell for me if you need anything.”
Ember got back to her feet and trotted after Helena. “I’ll keep an eye out for you.”
Walking swiftly Helena found a secluded pool and stripped to her underclothes. “Keep watch for me and when I’m done you can have a turn.” She slowly lowered herself into the warm water and let out a sigh of relief. Sinking under the water she realized that she couldn’t feel the bottom of the pool. Before she could start swimming back up to the surface something grabbed her by the foot and pulled her under.
Walking back and forth Ember heard some splashing then bubbles break the surface of the pool. Thinking nothing of it she waited a minute before checking on Helena. She peered over at the hotspring only to see nobody in the water. “Helena! Where are you? This is no time to play games, you know.” Ember looked around for Helena and found no tracks and no scent to follow. “This isn’t good.” She turned and scampered back to Krakust and Lukren.
The two were passing their alcohol back and forth when Ember ran back into sight. “Help! Helena is missing!”
“Again?” Lukren jumped to his feet. “Where was she?”
“She disappeared under the water, I think. I couldn’t find a trail of any kind.”
Krakust got to his feet and pulled a compass from his pack. “I can find her with this.” He focused on the compass and pointed in the direction of the pool she had chosen. “This way to start. He glanced at Ember and Evryn. “Evryn, stay here. I’ll go with the fox.”
With a short wine Evryn curled up near Lukren.
“Well, uh, sorry about earlier Evryn.” Lukren said.
Evryn snorted softly and looked at the gaping mouth of the serpent.
“She’ll forgive you eventually.” Krakust said over his shoulder. “At the very least she’ll keep you safe cause I told her to.”
Ember scurried behind Krakust as the green orc hurried towards the pool. When they arrived at it he circled it multiple times. “She’s below the surface, I think.” He glanced up at the sky. “She’s certainly not above us. The sky is oddly clear today.” He began to remove his armor, making sure to keep his pickhammer and dagger on him then pulled a potion out of his pack. “I only have one of these, and I was hoping I wouldn’t need it.” He chugged most of the potion then held it out for Ember to drink. “It’ll allow us to breathe underwater.”
“I guess since you drank first I shouldn’t worry too much about it.” Ember drank the small amount of liquid remaining in the bottle.
With a grunt of approval Krakust dove into the pool, head first. As he went under he saw a jutting rock barely miss his face. Probably shouldn’t do that again. He used the momentum to swim swiftly downward. As he passed what appeared to be the half-way point of the depths a fishing spear flew past his left ear and he turned to see it barely miss Ember as well. He readied his dagger, the pickhammer was too big for underwater use, and swam towards his assailant.
– – –
The two kobolds lunged repeatedly at Lourek and Sorley. They connected a few times but only left minor scratches and bruises.
“How long,” Sorley said between dodges, “until we can dispatch them?”
Donaar looked across the board, remembering where the pawns were before. “Now isn’t a bad time.”
With a grunt Lourek swung his short-swords and heavily damaged on of the kobolds. Immediately after the swing Sorley shot a bolt of energy at the same kobold, dropping it.
“No!” The spirit of the mage cried out. “You’ve blocked my king in!”
“And with this outstanding move I’ll get you into checkmate.” Donaar moved a rook in to check the mage’s king. “Checkmate.”
“Wait.” The spirit looked over the chessboard. “Shast! You’ve won, sir knight.” The spirit bowed. “What is it that you want?”
“Help us get out of this place,” Donaar motioned at the belly of the serpent, “safe and sound.”
The spirit smiled and produced three potions from under the table. “These are potions of acid immunity. Use them well.” Then the spirit disappeared.
“I’m not sure how to use these yet.” Donaar picked up the potions and put them in his satchel. “Let’s continue in the direction Lourek was heading and think about it.” He motioned for Lourek to move on when he realized the second kobold had stopped attacking and was looking around, confused. “Oh,” Donaar said in draconic, “I thought you would be returned home after I won.”
The kobold turned to face Donaar, its metallic scales the same color as Donaar’s. “I need go home,” it said in broken common. “Where here?”
“Uhh…the belly of a serpent…” Donaar said hesitantly. “We’re trying to escape.”
“I help escape you help me.” The kobold pointed in the direction Lourek was heading. “Me be advance scout.” It scampered off and out of sight.
“We won’t see that thing again, will we?” Sorley asked, watching it disappear.
“Most likely, yeah.” Donaar shrugged. “I can only hope it doesn’t try to swim in the bile.”
The belly of the beast rumbled and a wave of acidic bile rolled towards the characters in the direction they were heading. The kobold was riding the wave by holding onto a piece of debris.
“Quickly!” Lourek yelled. “Get on the bone raft!” He pointed at the thing he had found earlier and everyone ran for it.
So, it’s been a while since I posted here. I’m going to be taking a look at some of the stories that I’ve gotten really far in and choose one of those to focus on. I want to get one of them done then go back to the others afterwards. Chances are that it will be either Darkness Ascending, Terra Incognita, or Medakus Grimoires that I focus on. I’ll start posting chapters again as I finish them.
For those of you who wish to follow along with the podcast (Sword or Sorcery RPG) at home then the next time we do space combat, you will have the Millennial Hawken stats in front of you! Also, the ship looks like SSV Normandy from Mass Effect.
Weapons Multifocal Laser: Damage; 1d4, Special; 20 Armor Penetration Sandthrower: Damage; 2d4, Special; Flak (double damage to fighter class hulls)
Defenses Augmented Plating: -2 AC, -1 Speed Hardened Polyceramic Overlay: Reduces armor penetration of incoming weapons fire
Fittings Armory: Allows access to armor and weapons up to TL4 for up to six crew members Boarding Tubes: allows boarding of disabled ships either via airlock or cutting into the ship Ship Locker: Allows access to survey and exploration equipment up to TL4 for up to six crew members Cargo Lighter: Orbit-to-surface cargo shuttle, holds up to 200 tons of cargo Survey Sensor Array: Improved planetary sensor array Fuel Scoop: The ship can scoop fuel from a gas giant or star
Dreekt came to in the middle of a battlefield in the Great Plains. The fields were burning, and the air reeked of burning flesh and smoldering metal.
“Three-En-Ar-Three-Five-Five, report!” An automaton shouted. The voice was low-quality and had an undertone of static.
A matte black automaton arm broke through a layer of rubble and glistened in the fire. “3-NR-355 reporting. Enemy wave eliminated.” The automaton pulled itself out of the rubble.
“No, you missed a skravyn.” The first automaton pointed at Dreekt.
Enress turned her head to look. “No, he’s fine.”
“What did you say?”
“Does it look like he has wings, Smithed?”
Smithed turned his scrape-covered head to get a closer look at Dreekt. “What in the name of The Commander?” Smithed raised his pick hammer defensively. “Get off the battlefield before they see you!”
“Who sees me? Enress, what’s this dream about?” Dreekt looked around the battlefield, confusion in his eyes.
Enress shook her head. “So, Syb sent you in, did he? Smart bird. He can’t be here for this. The Winged War…rather, he’s already here.” She pointed up in the sky. “Leading them, in the thrall of The Desecrator.”
Dreekt turned to look up. His beak started clicking in terror. “Th-there’s hu-hundreds of th-them!” The sky appeared to be full of winged skravyn, all glistening black and dark grey. At the head of each group was a golden skravyn with a red ring around its head.
“No, there is only one group of twenty left. The others are illusion.” Enress rubbed her head with her hand making a sound like the gritting of teeth. “I ran the first time, and Smithed lost his memories. I will not turn back now! I will stand my ground!”
The fear disappeared from Dreekt’s face and the chittering of his beak slowed and finally stopped. “The Desecrator has him under his thrall?”
“Well, I think I can do something about that.” A black cloud began to surround Dreekt.
Smithed’s pick hammer rushed down in front of Dreekt’s face, missing by the width of a feather. “No, that’s how he turned them. They summoned The Desecrator’s power and it corrupted them!”
“That’s not what Dreekt does, this comes from within him. He can help.” Enress laid her hand on Smithed’s shoulder. “Trust me.”
With smiling eyes Dreekt finished the transformation into a visage of death, scythe and all. “I will deal with the regular ones. Enress, try to break The Sentry of this curse.”
“What?” Smithed turned to Enress. “That’s The Sentry? A god is being controlled by another god?”
Enress shook her head. “Apparently so.”
– – –
Multiple winged skravyn divebombed at Dreekt as he approached their altitude. He immediately turned and dove back down toward Smithed.
What in the world are you thinking, Dreekt?! The spirit’s screech echoed through Dreekt’s skull.
Dreekt had to speed up his dive to avoid stalling in the air. Calm down! It’s a dream! Weren’t you paying any attention up to this point?
It took me this long to reach your thick-skulled mind. Your body will take damage if you take damage here. This is an unnatural dream! Can’t you tell?
What? Pausing for a moment Dreekt glanced behind himself to make sure the enemy was still following him. They weren’t too far behind and he continued toward Smithed. Well, we better resolve this quick then. My dream wasn’t quite so dangerous.
The spirit chuckled. Just because you didn’t notice the danger didn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous. Just be careful, and don’t cast any spells if you can avoid it.
With a thwump Dreekt landed next to Smithed. “Hey, uh, is there any reason I shouldn’t cast any spells here?”
“Yes!” Smithed said, alarmed. “Don’t cast anything! The Desecrator has cursed this field of battle. If you cast anything other than necromancy here it will backfire.” The automaton faced Dreekt. “I know you’re the visage of death right now, but please don’t cast any necromancy unless your life depends on it.”
“No problem. Since I don’t know any.”
We’ll have to change that.
“And I don’t particularly want to learn any.”
Smithed nodded. “That’s a good idea. No necromancy, no chance for it to corrupt you.” He held up his pick hammer, ready to swing. “Here they come!”
The first winged skravyn learned a valuable lesson about trying to fly with wings smashed by a hammer, and the second took a scythe to the face. Behind the winged skravyn The Sentry watched as they began to pick apart his last battalion. He started to move forward when Enress pulled herself out from under a pile of smoldering dirt.
“Not so fast, turncoat!” Enress jabbed at the yellow skravyn with her brass knuckles.
The Sentry laughed. “You think you can take me, a god, on head to head?” He pulled a wicked two-handed scimitar from his back. “Let’s go, mortal.” He swung the sword down, towards the base of Enress’ head, where the neck would be if she were organic.
“The automatons are not mortals!” Enress grabbed the sword with her left hand. “If I die here, I will be reborn.”
“How did you stop that?!”
Enress held up a glowing, azure stone in her right hand. “By The Commander, I cleanse thee!” The glow of the stone expanded and covered both the fighters in its light, obscuring them from the view of Dreekt and Smithed, who were still fighting the winged skravyn.
– – –
Dreekt didn’t get a chance to see what happened next, when the light faded he found himself lying on the ground next to Enress. She wasn’t matte black anymore. The silver color put him at ease as he sat up, rubbing his beak. “Enress, are you okay?”
With a chirp Syb landed on Enress’ shoulder and pecked at the side of her head.
“Yeah, yeah. Get off me, turncoat.” The words would’ve been harsh if the tone they were presented in weren’t so soft. She patted the bird as she sat up. “Well, who’s next?”
[With the holiday season I’ve had little time to write this last couple of months, but here’s part of the next chapter for Darkness Ascending.]
Syb circled the adventuring party’s limp bodies. He tweeted repeatedly in shrill tones, hoping the adventurers would awaken. They did not stir from their slumber. In desperation Syb landed on the shoulder of Dreekt, the skravyn, the most bird-like of the party. Using a claw, he began to scratch an arcane sigil into his armor, between the shoulder blades. He knew what the sigil would eventually do, but he needed to awaken one of the party before it was too late.
– – –
Four skravyn sat around a table. Dreekt and Kreet were fighting over who was going to get the largest portion of dessert. Their father was reading a book, idly shoving food into his mouth, while their mother cut exactingly equal proportions of Wishing Day Sweetbread.
“Now, now you two. I always give you the same portion of dessert. Especially on Wishing Day. Now take your portions and make a wish.” Their mother placed the cuts in front of them and sat down to her own, smaller piece. “Dear,” she addressed the skravyn reading a book, “your piece is on the counter when you finish your meal.”
A knock echoed through the house that made Dreekt hop a meter into the air. As he peaked and began to fall a pain exploded between his shoulder blades and the scene faded.
– – –
Dreekt found himself roaming mists. They weren’t the same mists from the stone visions, but they weren’t too dissimilar. “Hello? Is anyone there?” His voice was muffled by the fog.
“Yes,” a deep voice responded, “I am here.”
Dreekt approached the voice. He saw a skravyn silhouette start to coalesce out of the mist, but something was different about it. Something that made the pain between his shoulder blades pulse to life again.
– – –
Around Dreekt the vision of Wishing Day returned.
The chair clattered to the floor as Dreekt landed on it, unbalanced. He stood up quickly and ran to the door yelling, “I’ll get it!”
The door opened before Dreekt could get to it. A yellow skravyn stepped through the door. “Hello. I believe you are Dreekt, aren’t you?”
Dreekt’s dad put down his book. “You are not welcome here, Balare!” He stood up and approached the doorway.
“You don’t have any say in that. The Sentry request’s Dreekt’s presence.” He held up a hand and a pulse of energy emanated from it. “It is his decision, not yours.”
With a nod Dreekt walked out the door. “I’ll go.”
– – –
Dreekt once again found himself in the mists.
“This is not how that day went, was it?” The deep voice asked.
The figure in the mist was still to far away to make out more than a silhouette. “No, it wasn’t. We had Wishing Day out of the city that year. In the forest.”
“Why do you think that was?”
“Father, he didn’t want Kreet or I leaving to forge our own lives. I’m not sure what his reasoning was, but it seemed right to him.”
The silhouetted skravyn strode forward. It had the markings of a goldfinch, the same as Syb, but it also had wings between its shoulders. “Well, you’re here now. Let’s wake up, shall we?”
“Syb? You’re The Sentry?”
“Yes, cursed to have a finch’s form. Only here, in dreams, can I be what I truly am.” He grabbed Dreekt by the arm, turned him around, and slapped between his shoulder blades, where the sigil had been scribed.
– – –
Dreekt awoke to Syb pecking at his back. He turned over and sat up. He saw his friends lying face down in the dirt around him. Even Enress was affected by this magical sleep. He approached her first. “Syb, whatever you did, does it allow me to enter their dreams as well?”
The goldfinch nodded and landed on Enress’ back. He pecked lightly at the base of her head and chirped at Dreekt.“Well, here goes.” Dreekt reached down and placed his palm on the back of Enress’ neck, where Syb had pecked.